Courting a potential ban on her short film, Shailaja Padindala on the need for fearless filmmaking.
OVER the last week, a 10-minute short film of a woman speaking to her partner about her first sexual encounter found itself in the middle of a controversy. The film, Memories of a Machine, by artist-musician and now filmmaker Shailaja Padindala, stars Malayalam theatre artiste Kani Kusruti, and is a simple yet striking film that traces the character’s introduction to sex as a Class III student in a home-video format.
“This film’s idea came up when I was pondering about alternative experiences that children have. Sexuality is a huge part of that,” says Padindala. While many have lauded the film for its bold take, others have warned the film of treading dangerously on the fine line between abuse and pleasure, going on to say that the film even pardons paedophilia. An unfazed Padindala, however, is quick to add, “I expected a debate. What’s great is that a lot of people are making spoofs; I have seen a lot of films called Memories of a Stool, Memories of a Mermaid, and things of that sort. The style and the nature of storytelling is picking up as a trend and that’s heartening to me, as a creator.”
Several people called for a ban on the YouTube video. Padindala responds to these pleas by saying, “I am being forced to take a side, but that’s not what I am looking at right now. In the first few days before and after the movie’s release, I spent a lot of time anxious about maybe giving the wrong idea to people watching the film. But now, I don’t really care about the detractors.” The 30-year-old alumni from LV Prasad Film and TV Academy is currently in Pondicherry learning Kalaripayittu and says her next work will be a rustic take on the artform.